Chapter 6

Stevie stood in the hospital car park with two police officers and twenty cigarettes.

"I am calm!" He howled at Ken Stoddart, one of the policemen. "OK I'm calmer. That's my sister in there and that doctor was being ... secretive."

"You were roaring, Steel. Settle down and Tom will take you back in." Ken told him, nodding towards Tom, his colleague. "So you don't think Andrea knows Simon Fields?"

"No. I told you about all that. I don't know what Andrea's nerd's name is but he's not bloody sixteen, is he eh?" Stevie said sarcastically. "I can't believe he did this, I honestly can't. I didn't know he was so far gone. The bloody psycho." He sat on the litter bin and took a few deep breaths.

"So Andrea got a new bloke and Collins didn't like the idea. Right? So he mistook Fields for this boyfriend of hers. That right?" Ken nodded.

"Yes! He was hugely pissed off because our Andrea got on with the boffin type. I should never have left ... left ... Jesus!" Stevie jumped off the bin and threw his cigarette away. Lingsy was on his way to the hospital entrance. "Who would you say that was?"

"You know who it is otherwise you wouldn't have asked. We've been watching him, he's clean." Ken said. Stevie nodded and ran off towards Lingsy. "Oi! Get back here you nutter."

"I just need to ask him something! Five minutes, OK? I'm not going to start anything. I'm not that daft." Stevie sprinted up the path. "Lingsy! Lingsy hang on!" Lingsy spun round and he looked bowel wrenchingly pised off. "Oh shit."

"Has he got bail?"

"No. They're holding him." Stevie tried to get his breath. "Shit Lingsy what the hell did he do? I swear I've no idea what any of this is about."

"Oh? You do a good line in being blind, don't you Stevie? I suppose you had no idea he was battering your sister until he carved her up with a bottle? You have no idea what a struggle I'm having here not to rip you inside out, Stevie."

"Crap. No I didn't know he was battering her." Stevie hung his head. "I knew they argued. They argued all the bloody time. I can't believe that little bastard did this to her. I couldn't see why someone like you was after his arse but seeing what he's capable of, it's obvious I don't know the little shit at all. Lingsy whatever he's done, our Andrea won't know anything. She wants nothing to do with any of it. Leave her alone Lingsy."

"Stevie!" Carol, Stevie and Andrea's step-mum came tottering down the path on high heels. "She's awake and her mum's on her way."

"Let's go." Stevie grabbed hold of Carol and hauled her back up the path. "Has she said anything? Is she OK? Did you tell her that shitbag is locked up?"

"Stevie!" Carol yanked her arm free. "Slow down and get along here." She pointed down the corridor. "Yes you've gone the wrong way you big numb bugger!"

"Arse!" Stevie marched down the right corridor and the secretive doctor was blocking his way. "I'm OK now. See? I'm fine. I was distraught earlier and I only picked you up because ... because ... look can I go in? Please?"

"You'll have to wait until the other man comes out. Only two visitors are allowed at a time." The doctor informed him.

"Other man? You mean my dad?"

"No the other one. Stay out until one of them comes out." The doctor ordered. Stevie darted at the door and looked through the glass.

"Hell's teeth! What the sodding hell is he doing in there? I asked him not to grill her!"

"Weakest grilling I've ever seen. He has hold of her hand." Carol observed.

"Huh?" Stevie had another look. "What in blue soddery is going on? Dad!" He tapped on the window and began waving his arms around. "Oh get out here you old fart." Frank Steel kissed Andrea's head and came out. "Dad! Do you know who that is in there?"

"Andrea. Carry on and I'll bust your snout for you. Pipe down, gobshite." Frank wandered off with Carol. Stevie darted into the hospital room and just blinked at Lingsy, the hardest set of goods in the area, and his little sister. Things didn't just fall into place, then avalanched, loudly and clearly.

"Stevie." Poor Andrea was all bandaged up and three drips threaded their way into her arms. "Stevie?"

"Yes." Stevie gave himself a shake and went to Andrea's bedside. "I'm here sis. Shit." He bit his lip to stop it trembling, and held her hand. "I'm so sorry Princess. None of this would have happened if I'd listened to you. Christ I'll never forgive myself."

"It's not your fault Tony's a psychotic scumbag. You told him to back off and he didn't. He went for that student thinking it was James. This is James Carling, Stevie. James, this is my brother." Andrea smiled and her eyelids dragged with the painkillers.

"James eh?" Stevie lifted his eyebrows at James Carling, formerly knows as Lingsy, as in Car-ling-sy. He'd never have made that connection if he'd lived to be a hundred. "Andrea says you're ... um ... well an intellectual type." Stevie said tactfully. Geek, nerd, boffin whatever, it was still Lingsy.

"Degree in English, Steven. I'm a librarian." James smirked at Stevie's face.

"Really? Piss off! You serious?" Stevie said in shock.

"Hey! James is quiet and computery. Stop swearing at him you ... twat! Say sorry." Andrea slurred.

"Er ... yes. Sorry. Andrea go to sleep and stop earwigging." Stevie kissed his sister's head and nodded to the door.

"Get some rest Andrea. I'm just outside with Stevie, I'm not going anywhere." James straightened the blanket across Andrea's chest and followed Stevie out of the room. The doctor was giving Stevie a hard stare so they went outside. The two police officers were still there and Stevie excused himself on the pretence of getting his cigarette lit.

"How's she doing?" Ken asked. "And what are you and Carling up to?"

"She's doing fine. Me and Lingsy aren't up to anything, I swear. Listen, Tony isn't getting bail is he?" Stevie asked quietly.

"Can't say. Nothing for you to bother about anyway Stevie. Andrea will be fine with us lot here." Ken replied.

"I don't mean that. I know who Andrea's nerd is and he's not all that nerdy afterall. It's Lingsy and he'll cripple Tony if he gets hold of him." Stevie rubbed his temples.

"What's Lingsy?" Ken just looked at Stevie. "Jim Carling is seeing your Andrea?"

"It seems so, yes. Just keep Tony where he is for a while for his own safety." Stevie nodded and went to sit on a wooden bench with James. "So how were you planning on keeping it all from Andrea? She has no idea who you are."

"Yes she does. She has no idea who I was." James sighed. "I knew she'd know eventually. I just couldn't bring myself to tell her. I know her opinions on gangs and gang mentality. She hates it Stevie. How could I tell her I was the gang until Mark got stabbed? She'd have ran a mile."

"So how did you know Tony was being an arsehole with her? Hell I'll never get over that." Stevie lit another cigarette.

"I only live down the street from her. I saw, and heard him. He split her head open Stevie. She was terrified of him, and of you. She was frantic incase either of you took exception to me and turned me over. She ran down to that library to protect me, Stevie." James said wearily.

"I know. I worked it out that she'd gone to warn you at work. Did you mean to scare Tony that badly? Trust me Lingsy, he was crapping himself." Stevie asked.

"I meant to scare him off but I never thought it would go the way it did. I didn't think he'd go straight to you for one thing. I didn't expect to be doing your head as a side effect." James said. "I was furious when I saw that cut on her face. I don't know the details, but that's down to Collins. I dented his garage door out of sheer temper. Poor Andrea." He shook his head. "I wasn't even in work this morning. I told her I was but I was over at the cemetery. She didn't need to know that. She had enough to depress her."

"What are you going to do now? Tony'll get sent down so he's a non issue. I mean about Andrea." Stevie asked.

"Wait until she's recovered and tell her everything, I suppose. It's the only thing I can do. What's the chances of her sticking around me after that? You know her better than anyone." James looked at Stevie.

"I've no idea, mate, honest I haven't. I do know she thinks a hell of a lot of you, that's obvious by the way she protected you. I don't know, Lingsy. She hates the gang scene but so do you." Stevie shrugged. "No matter how it turns out she'll always have me and I've had a gut full of it. Just disappearing isn't an option for me so I'll just have to tell them all to piss off."

"That's all there is to it, yes." James nodded. "Oh they'll bitch and cry at you for a month or two but they'll soon get the message. Just go to work, earn your wage and keep your nose clean. I know Andrea will always have you so even if she rejects me I'm pleased you're still there."

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